ASHLEY OWENS

Living spaces and interior décor has been always been part of my interests and what’s better than featuring people outside the streets and into their homes to get a much more intimate perspective. Ashley Owens of Grandpa Style was kind enough to help me kick off this – hopefully, one of many – “Spotlight” feature. With her keen taste in menswear, we spent a day together just getting to know each other.
    • 1. How did the name “Grandpa Style” came about and what is the vision behind it?
    • Grandpa Style started from a nickname I got while at Parsons School of Design. I’ve always gravitated toward wearing men’s clothes. People would joke that I looked like a grandpa because I consistently wore clothes with a combination of texture, layers, pleats, and tweeds. I started a WordPress blog called Grandpa Style in 2008, commenting on menswear brands that produced high quality goods. That failed when school became too busy, but the idea of creating a platform to talk about fine craft stayed with me. Before studying at Parsons I studied Political Science. I am in love with the dream that fashion creates, however I believe many people are exploited so that large companies can over-saturate the market with superfluous products made at very low quality. Grandpa Style was revived to talk to people who use their craft to make something of lasting importance. Then I try to connect the right people together and let magic happen. Each feature takes quite a bit of time to find the right people and the right subject, but what comes from it will hopefully inspire others to choose quality over quantity.
    • 2. I understand you used to play basketball in high school and many of your friends would say how you “dress like a guy”. What influenced your personal style growing up and was it easy “fitting” in?
    • I became a tomboy after moving around to many schools as a kid and felt the need to portray a tough exterior. It was always difficult fitting in as the “new girl”, but the boys would always let me join whatever sports they were playing. It became my solution to not knowing how to make friends – to play sports. Later it became the reason I felt alienated. I started to change and tried dressing more feminine, but I looked and felt uncomfortable every time. I don’t feel like I’m not feminine, so it’s hard when people make assumptions about you based on the way you look. Even in my adulthood I’ve had women tell me I should dress differently, to be more “pretty”. It initially stunned me, but then I realized it’s their insecurity that would make them say that, not mine. I still struggle with feeling like an outsider in some groups of women, but trying to fit in has never worked. I’d just be a black sheep in a white sweater.
    • 3. You always look effortless in menswear. Have you ever worn dresses or heels and how did it make you feel?
    • Thank you! I love some dresses, but I usually feel right at home in a suit if I’m dressing up. I like skirt suits though – that’s my version of a dress! I also love heels, but the problem is I’m 6’1” and I feel like an overwhelming giant with heels. So it’s not the first thing I buy and generally just end up with a pair of oxfords or boots.
    • 4. What are the most common things people say to you when they see you?
    • I feel that since the recent development of street-style, people are much more comfortable commenting on each other’s looks in public. Menswear for women has become more “cool” and now people tend to approach me to ask what brands I’m wearing. I get a lot of “love your look!” which is always nice to hear.
    • 5. You’ve worked with several names such Thom Browne and Veronica Beard, and assisted with a master tailor. With your current focus on Grandpa Style amongst other freelance styling jobs, where would you like to see yourself in the next decade?
    • I’ve been fortunate to see many different sides of the fashion industry. It was really crucial for me when I worked with master tailor Rocco Ciccarelli. I saw the artistry in creating a perfectly tailored garment; the love and dedication that is put into making something so precise. It also made me see that the craft and process of creating high quality products has been jeopardized by fast fashion. I would like to continue the conversation about the integrity for the process of making any products. As for where I’d like to see myself, ideally I would like to be an editor for a magazine. Another dream is to have my own suit line for other women who enjoy wearing tailored goods, then maybe a store downtown. You know, small stuff.
    • 6. How would you describe the mood of your home?
    • Homey. My place is open, bright, and has many places to relax. I’m also lucky to have a kitchen that is big and inviting. I want people to come over and be able to feel at home, as well as having a place to escape the demanding world outside.
    • 7. I see part of your wardrobe is vintage. What are some of your favorite places for vintage finds?
    • Anytime I travel to any state, I have to visit the thrift stores and somehow I always find something that I connect to. Vintage clothes, to me, tell a story, and they have so much presence. That may seem strange, but I really love my finds. Recently, my favorite place is right outside of Washington, D.C., which is a large Value Village and a Unique Thrift, both together – it’s enormous! I don’t like upscale “vintage” stores. I like the hunt and the best feeling is finding that needle in the haystack.
    • 8. And lastly, a quote that you live by.
    • “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
    • ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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